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Interagency Memorandum of Understanding: Retiree Insurance Benefits

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Class Action Against State of Michigan: Taxation of State Pensions (Okrie vs State of Michigan)

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Latest Update: February 17, 2017
As I stated in my Last Update, I filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Michigan Supreme Court's denial of my Application for Leave to Appeal from the Court of Appeals' opinion affirming the dismissal of the Okrie class-action lawsuit.  While the Motion for Reconsideration is pending, Mr. Thomas R. Okrie asked me to post his own appeal for funding my efforts to bring this case to the U.S. Supreme Court.  It is called FUND A BUCK.  Here is Tom's message to everyone:


Dear Fellow Professionals Working Toward a Secure Retirement,

My name is Thomas R. Okrie. I am 70 years old and a retired teacher from Troy, Michigan. I have spent the last four years of my life as the primary litigant in a legal action against Governor Snyder's repeal of the pension tax exemption (2001 PA 38, and the related legislation). The attorney on the case is Gary P. Supanich, who has done a brilliant job without adequate compensation. On January 5, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court decided to deny our Application Leave to Appeal. A motion for reconsideration filed on January 24, 2017 is pending before the Court. The State's position is simple: you have no contract to any benefits other than your pension allocation upon retirement. Isn't that a clever enticement fraud and a dereliction of responsible stewardship by our Government officials who wrote us blatant misrepresentations to work for them (dangling a carrot without substance or true intention to pay for our services)? This cannot stand!

Gary and I, however, need funding to bring this important class-action case before the U.S. Supreme Court on a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. We are seeking $1.00 contributions from 25,000 people. Hence, FUND A BUCK. If you want to preserve and protect retirement benefits, this may be the best dollar you ever spent and certainly the least costly contribution you can possibly make to stop legislative backtracking on vested rights earned for years of governmental service. Don't delay! The Government doesn't want to pay us what we earned! This is repugnantly wrong and fraudulently unjust! Together, we shall prevail! Please send your contributions to the following:

c/o Thomas R. Okrie
Empty Wallet Homestead
3267 Sand Road
Port Austin, Michigan 48467

Thank you.
Thomas R. Okrie

Click to download Tom’s message.

In November state retirees were mailed a Retiree Benefits Bulletin that explained the Prescription Drug Manager change for retirees enrolled in the State’s Health Plan PPO. Retirees should read that bulletin that explains the Prescription Drug Manager change.

A recent letter (dated 11/30/16) from GenerationRx has caused a lot of confusion among our Medicare retirees. The first paragraph of the letter states this letter is to confirm your disenrollment from Medicare GenerationRx effective January 1, 2017. This statement has caused a lot of confusion among retirees because they think they will no longer have prescription drug coverage after the first of the year. The confusion is further exacerbated by the rest of the letter that tells the retiree that they must enroll in another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

Medicare-eligible State Retirees are already enrolled in the OptumRx Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. The enrollment in the Optum Rx plan is automatic if the retiree was already enrolled in the State’s Health Plan PPO. The new prescription plan is effective January 1, 2017. Retirees should be receiving a welcome packet and new ID cards from OptumRx in the middle of December. If you do not receive the packet/ID cards prior to December 31, please call OptumRx at 866-635-5941 to assist you.

After talking to Lauri Schmidt (Employee Benefits Director), Michigan SERA Council Chair Bob Kopaz learned that this disenrollment letter is required by Medicare rules and is pretty confident that if Lauri had had any input into the information in the letter it would not have caused this much confusion.


Hantz Financial Consultant Chris Kemp (far right) at the Coldwater/Branch County Senior Health Fair with Goldwater Chapter Board members (left to right) Jackie Russell (chapter secretary), Bing Johnson (chapter president), Patricia Cox (chapter board member), Gordon Gentry (chapter vice president) and Mary Jensen (chapter board member) board member.

SERA is committed to providing exceptional value to its members by delivering quality financial products and services to our members through our SERA Plus program. Consistent with our philosophy, we are pleased to announce that financial planning, investment, insurance (including auto, home and liability), tax planning, estate planning advice, and banking services will soon be offered exclusively through our relationship with Hantz Group, Inc., and its affiliates (together, “Hantz”), headquartered at 26200 American Drive, Southfield, Michigan 48034.

Our decision to offer financial planning, investment, insurance, tax planning, estate planning advice, and banking services through Hantz allows us to provide you with a variety of financial services under one roof. Hantz Group, along with its affiliates, Hantz Tax & Business, LLC, Hantz Agency LLC and Hantz Bank, to name a few, provides a comprehensive approach to your specific financial service and banking needs. Hantz will offer and provide its services through its 21 locations conveniently located near most of our chapters throughout Michigan.

For more information on Hantz, including locations, please visit www.hantzgroup.com or contact our SERA Plus program administrator, Cheryl Streberger at 517-515-9815, or your SERA Chapter Liason.

About Michigan SERA

SERA is an non-profit organization devoted exclusively to issues and concerns of all current and future retirees of the State of Michigan.

SERA works to:

  • keep Michigan state employee pension and insurance benefits secure.
  • assure pension and insurance benefits are improved and keep up with inflation.
  • monitor and take action on important developments affecting state pension and retiree health care benefits.
  • inform its members about proposed federal and state legislation that will affect State of Michigan retirement systems and retiree health care.
  • stay in touch with old friends and make new friends with a common background.
  • monitor the State Employees Retirement Systems Board, the Investment Advisory Committee (which makes recommendations to the State Treasurer on investments in the State Employees Retirement System pension fund), and the 401K and 457 programs provided through Voya.
  • work with the Office of Retirement Services and Civil Service Benefits Division to help retirees and near retirees with their pension and benefits issues.
  • provide SERA PLUS, great discounts and services in many areas of retirement living such as first-year free tax preparation, estate planning, tax planning, home and auto insurance, financial services, mortgage services, estate transfer strategies, final settlement planning, and much more through SERA’s association with Hantz Group, Inc..

SERA works through its members, leaders, and committees to promote the best interests of state employee retirees and future retirees. At least eight times since 1974, SERA was a moving force in pension increases or benefit improvements. In 2011, we opposed the pension tax and helped eliminate it for 70% of retirees; we opposed the remaining tax on public pensions for those born after 1945 in the Michigan Supreme Court. We opposed the recent state employee retirement system changes. That work continues.

SERA has 21 local chapters statewide that are linked through the Coordinating Council of the State Employee Retirees Associations of Michigan (the SERA Coordinating Council). SERA chapters have periodic meetings with guest speakers, opportunities for networking, newsletters, and other activities.

SERA welcomes the new ideas and energy of new members! To join, contact Cheryl Streberger at 517-515-9815 or cstreberger@yahoo.com.